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The Exterminating Angel (1962)
The Exterminating Angel (1962)
1962 | Drama, Fantasy
6.0 (1 Ratings)
Movie Favorite

"Have just watched The Exterminating Angel for the first time since fuzzy VHS in University of Texas A/V library. He is my hero. Mike Nichols said in the newspaper he thinks of Buñuel every day, which I believe I do, too, or at least every other."

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Woody Harrelson recommended The Graduate (1967) in Movies (curated)

 
The Graduate (1967)
The Graduate (1967)
1967 | Classics, Comedy, Drama

"Then The Graduate. It’s just one of the greatest comedies of all time. The way Dustin Hoffman is… You know, I guess that was his first big break and he just blew me away when I first saw that. Extraordinary performance, and you know, Mike Nichols. Just amazing, the way it’s shot; it’s just absolutely beautiful. And also, an incredible, quirky kind of love story."

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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
1966 | Classics, Drama
(0 Ratings)
Movie Favorite Watch

"Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? — that’s another one I rewatched recently. When I first saw that movie it made me feel bad. I didn’t fall in love with it. I loved The Graduate when I first saw it, but [Virginia Woolf], I wasn’t excited by it, because it seemed like there was a negativity about it. But when I watched it more recently I thought it was the most beautiful, inspired, exciting movie. Mike Nichols is one of the most inventive directors that we’ve had, and that’s one of the great, you know, it’s a great movie, and a stunning first film."

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Richard Ayoade recommended Taxi Driver (1976) in Movies (curated)

 
Taxi Driver (1976)
Taxi Driver (1976)
1976 | Thriller

"Very funny, again. I just think it’s really funny, that film. “I had an apple pie with cheese — I thought that was great choice.” It’s a really good film to like if you’re interested in directing, ’cause it’s full of so many brilliant directorial flourishes: it’s like an Italian horror film, but really funny. There are sort of Mike Nichols scenes in there, with all the Bava camerawork and the Godard stuff. And just [De Niro] — his performance. And how subjective it is — how it channels all that Hitchcock stuff with something that’s more docuemntary and more real. I know [Scorsese] always talks about The Wrong Man in relation to it and it would have been interesting to see what Hitchcock had done if he’d done more stuff on location."

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Dana Calvo recommended The Graduate (1967) in Movies (curated)

 
The Graduate (1967)
The Graduate (1967)
1967 | Classics, Comedy, Drama

"A few years ago, I read that Mike Nichols made sure there was always a window or door visible near Benjamin when he was with Mrs. Robinson. As if to say he could have left at any time. He wasn’t a victim. This movie endures for me because it keeps changing in significance. It began as a risqué and wild peek into a slightly nerdy guy’s life. Now, as a middle-aged mother, I see it differently. For starters, Anne Bancroft was only thirty-five years old during filming—she was hardly the crone or predator I had viewed her as when I was a girl. In fact, watching it now, I see a woman who is toying with a curious young man, a woman stepping off the grid for something that is entirely her own and not meant for public consumption. In my imagination, Mrs. Robinson has other lovers, and The Graduate is just a moment in her arc of disillusionment."

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The Graduate (1967)
The Graduate (1967)
1967 | Classics, Comedy, Drama
Career Defining Turn by Bancroft
On the surface, THE GRADUATE is a story of a young college graduate who has an affair with an older woman. But look beneath the surface and this film becomes much, much more.

Directed by Mike Nichols, THE GRADUATE tells the tale of Benjamin Braddock a recent College Graduate who returns home to figure out what to do with his life. He enters the film in a malaise and is paralyzed into inaction by no clear direction to his life. Taking advantage of this young man's vulnerability, family friend, Mrs. Robinson, seduces Benjamin but Benjamin realizes that he is in love with Mrs. Robinson's daughter, Elaine.

Sounds pretty straight forward, right? But under the smart, understated Direction of Mike Nichols (who won an Oscar for his work), this film becomes much, much more - subverting the notion of love and lust while driving a narrative that shines a light on the generational gap between parents and adult children in a time of great change in America - oh...and doing it in a subtly comedic way (the screenplay was wonderfully written by the great Buck Henry who makes a cameo in this film as a Hotel clerk).

Nichols, smartly, casts then relative unknown Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin because he was able to play the comedy of the awkwardness of the character (especially early on in the seduction/sex scenes with Mrs. Robinson) as well as showing emotion in emotionlessness. His Benjamin is empty - but not lacking of personality or interest - a tough tightrope to walk, but Hoffman plays it well and earned an Academy Award nomination for his work. His character does become...if I'm being honest...less interesting and more "stalker-ish" (certainly from a 21st Century perspective) as he pursues Elaine in the 2nd half of the film, so this diminishes this performance just a bit.

Also earning an Academy Award nomination is Anne Bancroft who dons a career-defining role as Mrs. Robinson. She was having trouble with the part until Director Nichols reminded her that Mrs. Robinson is seducing Benjamin not out of love or lust, but out of anger at the direction her life has drifted. We find out that Mrs. Robinson was an Art Major in College but gave up anything resembling a career when she got pregnant shortly before marrying Mr. Robinson. You can see the seething anger and resentment in the way Bancroft performs this character, with just a tinge of regret. This is a woman trying to take some control over her life - by controlling her relationship with Benjamin. And, when Benjamin decides it is time to take control of his own life, she resents it and digs her claws in deeper. It is a tour-de-force performance, one of the all-time great female performances in film.

The third side to this triangle is Elaine Robinson and as written - and portrayed by Katherine Ross - this is the most problematic of the characters. Elaine appears to be a well adjusted young woman finishing off her college career and is forced into a "date" with Benjamin at the insistence of Benjamin's parents and Elaine's father (Elaine's mother - Mrs. Robinson - is, understandably, silent on this). There is a good scene in the middle of the film where Benjamin and Elaine make a connection (which spurs Benjamin into his obsession with Elaine) but I couldn't really see what was in it for Elaine. Sure, there is the "break away from the carefully crafted life that my parents have set up for me" angle (and, surely, her desire to NOT marry the pre-Med student that she is engaged to lines right up with that) but I just didn't understand/buy her infatuation with Benjamin. Despite this, Ross earned the 3rd acting Nomination from this film.

Credit all 3 of these performances to Director Nichols who finds the right balance in every scene along with an interesting visual style that punctuates the loneliness and isolation that Benjamin is feeling. Add to that the haunting songs/sounds of the Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack - just about the only music in this film - and you have a funny, haunting and important film that is an interesting look at a time in America (the late '60's) where great change was happening and the "Generation Gap" was never more noticeable.

One last note - I LOVED the closing shot of this film. Nichols let the camera roll just a little longer than the actors expected and the look on their faces change, subtly, from surety of their decision and direction to a more "unsure" look. It is a perfect, ambiguous, way to end and I applaud Nichols for making this strong choice.

Come for the seduction, stay for the subtle humor and to watch a Director at the top of his game.

Letter Grade: A

9 stars (out of 10) and you can take that to the Bank (ofMarquis)
  
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Henry Rollins recommended The Graduate (1967) in Movies (curated)

 
The Graduate (1967)
The Graduate (1967)
1967 | Classics, Comedy, Drama

"The Graduate directed by Mike Nichols. It’s just a perfect film. And it was, I think, the first non-student real film for Dustin Hoffman. It’s just a beautiful, perfectly written… perfectly shot, perfectly acted film, where you have Dustin Hoffman who has bedded both Anne Bancroft and Katharine Ross and he breaks up the marriage. I saw it as a little kid because I lived with my mom and she liked to go to the movies. She couldn’t always get a babysitter and so now and then I would get taken to films that were quite adult. There’s not necessarily nudity, because there doesn’t need to be. The thing is so well written; the adult themes and just how screwed up adults are is on full display in The Graduate. You can tell all these people are just so damn talented, and you look at a young Dustin Hoffman and you go, “Damn, man. Look at the career you’re about to have, dude. You’ve got it.” His talent was just so huge yet so innate in that he’s not gonna fail. He’s one of those people like, “Man, you were born to act.” I’ve tried to get to Buck Henry to get him to tell me stories about The Graduate and I’ve hung out with him a couple of times. And I’m like, “You wrote The Graduate!” And he’s always very funny and kinda belligerent to me, “Ah, shut up… Rwagh, Rwagh.” I’m like, “OK [laughing].”"

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Pat Healy recommended The Graduate (1967) in Movies (curated)

 
The Graduate (1967)
The Graduate (1967)
1967 | Classics, Comedy, Drama

"What can be said about this movie that hasn’t already been said? Mike Nichols’s masterpiece precipitated the sixties youth movement in all its melancholic glory while also being a hilarious satire of contemporary consumer culture. My brother Jim has always been an early adopter of movie technology. The first Criterion release I ever remember seeing was the Graduate laserdisc in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen (we had seen the film previously only on a pan-and-scan VHS borrowed from our local library). It has one of the first commentary tracks I ever heard on a disc (maybe the first), by film scholar Howard Suber. I learned a lot about film analysis listening to that track in 1987. But the new Blu-ray also features one of Nichols’s many commentaries in conversation with the great Steven Soderbergh. They have done several together (Catch-22 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), and they are never less than fully engaging and fascinating. When making my own film, I took to heart Nichols’s assertion that “a movie is about something, but it is also about something else.” And in this new transfer, The Graduate has never looked or sounded better. Robert Surtees’s brilliant compositions are a touchstone of modern cinema. Often imitated, never duplicated. By casting Dustin Hoffman, Nichols also flipped the idea of what a leading man was and could be, and changed the history of cinema."

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Lainie Kazan recommended The Graduate (1967) in Movies (curated)

 
The Graduate (1967)
The Graduate (1967)
1967 | Classics, Comedy, Drama

"The story, the acting was sublime. [Director] Mike Nichols did an incredible job. He just did such an amazing job. The story of the old woman and the young student was so new — we had never seen that onscreen, a depiction of that. Once again, I thought this was just a brilliant character study of these people. The story was extraordinary. I loved the relationship with Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman. I just thought that was staggering. And Dustin Hoffman’s performance was so sweet, and he was so insecure and a mumbling fool in so many ways. And she was so seductive. You know, she was a counselor at my camp? She was a drama counselor. When I was nine, she was 17 or 18, and she came to the camp and I was the only one who really took to her of all my camp friends. She would have me lie on the ground and we’d be in this bunk — like in a rehearsal hall or something — she would have us lie on the floor and picture the sky and picture all the different things that could come from the sky [laughing]. She just inspired me. Then I watched her on The Goldbergs — not the new Goldbergs — but The Goldbergs with Molly Goldberg, the brilliant, brilliant television show in the 1950s. Then I saw her in The Graduate — I was a young woman — and I was just — oh my God, she was so beautiful. And I couldn’t believe I had known her. She inspired me to act, she really did. As did Francis Coppola. I went to college with him — Hofstra University. He was the person who wrote all the plays. He wrote the shows — all the original shows that I was the star of. I’d be hired to do all the shows that he had written and his uncle would write the music, so it was kind of great."

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